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Struggling with being "the strong one" for everyone

R

Rhoken

New member
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Messages
1
Location
Washington
Hello,


First of all, sorry if this is in the wrong forum. There's a lot of things this can go under but I figure PTSD was the most fitting but I don't know. Also, this is going to be a large thread so I can explain a lot about myself and what's lead up to how I'm feeling now (it's basically my life story summarized). Also do be warned, some of this might be hard for some to read as it deals with child abuse, attempted suicide and potentially PTSD. With that, I thank you for your time reading this and let's start.


I'm the youngest of four siblings. I have a brother that is the eldest (6 years older than I) and two older sisters. My parents weren't ready to have children and my brother came as a surprise to them. They struggled in learning how to become parents suddenly and without warning. My brother struggled with discipline in grade school but the teachers didn't inform our parents of this until it had became a big problem. At that point our parents asked his teacher at the time what they should do for him and the teacher suggested corporal punishment. Our father obliged with this suggestion and started taking a belt to my brother whenever he misbehaved. It escalated from there though and our father took this as permission to do whatever he deemed appropriate to duel out punishment. One case in particular with my brother was bad. We had a furnace that heats the house and is ran off of oil. It caused a lot of problem if the furnace ever ran out of oil so our father made sure to always keep it filled. There was a spicket on the piping that came off of the tank that was used to turn off the flow of oil to the furnace when it wasn't being used. Us kids liked to play with it not knowing what it was for and were warned not to do so. One winter day my oldest sister turned it off while playing with it. That night it got really cold and the furnace wasn't working because the oil had been turned off. My father became furious and assumed it was my brother. In the middle of the night he grabbed my brother out of his top bunk bed by the ankle, dragged him outside, down the concrete steps and slammed the side of his face up against the oil tank yelling at him about how it's never supposed to be turned off. It wasn't even my brother that had done it. My brother went to school the next day with a bruise covering the entire side of his face along with a swollen eye. CPS was called but our father talked his way out of it with lies and nothing further was pursued. This further empowered our father's sense of corporal punishment.


Fast forward a few years to when I was a young kid before I was even in school. I was the youngest of four with an absentee mother and a father that worked all day. No one was around to watch over us kids. So, with nothing better to do and no supervision to be had I became the play thing of the group. I was constantly abused physically, psychologically and sexually by my siblings. They had nothing better to do because we lived a very simple lifestyle (we barely had broadcast TV back then) so it was just a game to them. This lead me to not have any trust in my peers and thinking that treating people this way was normal. I took this mentality into grade school and, much like my brother, had disciplinary issues always getting into fights with other kids unprovoked. The teachers informed my parents (who were separated at this point) and my father, again without investigating, just assumed that it was the same story as my brother so he started taking a belt to me. This made my issues even worse and I began to misbehave even more at school where I wasn't around my siblings or father. One day it got bad enough that I got suspended from school for a few days which made my father furious and he lost his temper fully. He grabbed me by the shirt and threw me into his room hard enough that I had a very large rug burn on my arm from it. He then proceeded to take a belt to the back of my legs until I couldn't stand anymore and I wailed in pain like I've never done since. It scared my siblings that heard this go down and my brother even stood up to our father and said that he thought I was actually seriously hurt. I went to school the next day and had my "usual talk" with the school counselor. I didn't know what they were at the time and just liked talking to them because they had fun puzzles for me to play with while I talked with them. I was young and didn't know anything. The counselor saw my arm and asked what had happened. I nonchalantly said that I had been bad and my father threw me. They were rightfully concerned and coaxed me into telling her the rest of what had happened (I had no idea what was going on). CPS was called and pictures of my injuries were taken. The back of my legs were covered in bloody welts from the belting I had received from the night prior. I spent about a week with my mother while CPS investigated what went on. Once again, our father talked his way out of it and I was guided to tell CPS lies about what had happened. I went back to living with my siblings and father. During these years I had constant nightmares about my father and siblings.


We lived out in the country where your neighbors pretty much never interfered with your affairs. It was a common belief out there that the best neighbor was one that didn't exist, as in one that kept to themselves. Our neighbor at the time (who's name I still remember) saw what was going on with my siblings and I constantly. He was one of these neighbors that kept to himself and certainly wasn't going to tell a father how to handle his kids. He was always to me though which thinking back now it must've been because the things he saw my siblings did to me. One day though, it just became too much for him to not say anything. My father was working on building a porch and our neighbor saw him out there working on it. He called my father over with the excuse that one of the supports wasn't straight. He then proceeded to tell my father about everything he had seen over the past few years. My father had no idea and it caught him completely off guard. Not only was our neighbor taking the risk sticking his nose into family business but what he had to say completely shocked my father. My father didn't want to believe it at first but he started looking out for it. Sure enough, he began to notice what was going on and the words our neighbor had said were true.


Our father decided that working double time and leaving the kids home unsupervised was a bad idea. Simply providing for the family wasn't anywhere near good enough. So with this knowledge he decided to leave his job and stay at home full time to try to get us kids back into check. He continued with the punishments but they got less and less severe. I had serious behavioral issues all the way until the 5th grade. My teacher at that time, bless her heart, went the extra mile to try to fix my behavioral issues. She would give my father daily updates on how I was doing in school and if I was misbehaving. She also wouldn't deal with any of my stuff in class and wouldn't hesitate to kick me out if I misbehaved. However, she also spent a lot of time outside of school rewarding me if I had a good day. We'd regularly go out and do fun things or go get pizza and whatnot if I was good. She was the first time that I was rewarded for being good, not just simply avoiding being punished for being bad. That year was still rough for me behavioral wise but with her help that was the last year I had such issues. I still had (and still have) anger issues but they were way less severe than they had been in the past.


Because of my actions throughout grade school I was ostracized by my peers in middle school (6-8th grade). We lived in a small town so we all knew each other and I was known as the bad kid. Even though my behavior was mostly fixed I had no friends and no semblance of a social life. I became the loser outcast that people got to pick on because I wasn't allowed to fight back. My academics suffered from this and school became hell for me. I hated being in school and regularly skipped classes to avoid having to go. I remember one kid who was on the wrestling team and was a year older than I was. He was particularly a problem but the school didn't do anything about it because he was their star athlete. My father would always tell us kids that if someone did something to you that you need to let it go and try to walk away so I did that with this kid. A couple of days it got worse though. One day he slammed my head repeatably into a desk until I had a lump and a bruise on my head. I went home with that and my father called the school furious about it but they wouldn't do anything. So, my father added another rule for me to follow. If you tell a teacher but they don't do anything and you can't get away then I was free to fight back if I didn't start the fight. The next day this kid shoved me in the back from behind into a wall. I told the PE teacher and he didn't care so since class was over I just grabbed my things and started walking to the next class. The kid followed after me and shoved me again so I turned around and cold cocked him in the face. A fight ensued but was quickly broken up by an art teacher passing by. We were both suspended for fighting (even though I was defending myself) but my father treated it like a vacation. This, however, further solidified my loser status at school. I basically became an untouchable afterwards and none of the kids would have anything to do with me.


Despite being a brilliant kid, my academic problems continued throughout the rest of my schooling. I should've been held back in the 8th grade but the school literally just wanted to be rid of me so they passed me on into high school. I was smart enough to skip a grade in math but so disinterested in school that I was regularly on the borderline of failing my classes. People tried working with me to improve this but nothing really worked. That was the case up until I met my high school science teacher. He made school fun with me and, much like my grade school teacher, turned me around but this time on a academic level. At that time I was slated to have to be held back a year because of how many classes I had failed. However, with his help I managed to get back on track enough to graduate on time. I had him for three classes the last two years of high school and I can easily credit him with my remarkable academic recovery. My senior year was the only really decent year I had in high school. I joined the Track and Field team because it afforded .5 credits towards your electives which I needed to graduate on time. On that team though, I had a serious break out moment. I helped out the team a lot, broke out of the shell I had formed and found myself part of a group of my peers for the first time. I remained in Jr Varsity the entire year but at the end of the year they gave me a Varsity Letter for how much I had grown and helped out the team. My father and I were very shocked when they did this. We had just gone to the award ceremony to support the other players and were baffled when I was called up to the stage as well. I ended up graduating on time and walked with my class in 2007.


At this point the relationship with my father and siblings had mostly equalized. I went to work with my father as a designer at his engineering business he had started. It was an excellent job and I learned a lot from there. However, the economy crashed in 2008 and work dried up for my father. He only had just barely enough work to keep himself in business and ran out of work to give me. Relations in our family became rough over the next couple of years because of the poor economy. My oldest sister had long since moved out and my other sister got married and move out. My brother and father fought constantly and my brother ended up moving out to live with our mother. About 6 months later my father and I got into a fight where he drew blood on me so I left as well. I decided that I'd never live in that house again and that our relationship was over permanently. The next few years were really difficult for my brother and I as we stood in line day to day at day labor places trying to get any work we could find for the day. We worked some of the worst legal jobs out there during those years.


Eventually, the economy started to turn around. Around this same time our father found faith as well. My brother and I think that use leaving surprised him and made him have a change of heart. He became a totally new person, good example of "born again" deal. In the several years since he's become a big foundational part of my life and one of my biggest supporters. I lean on him a lot for help, guidance and support now which I used to never think would happen. I went back and worked with him on some projects here and there when he had the work. Through him, I got introduced to a weld/fabrication shop. I made an arrangement with the owner to do some work for him in trade for him teaching me how to weld. He decided to hire me after I took to welding as easily as I did and I worked for him about two and a half years. I learned a lot working for him and became a much better Designer because of that experience.


Although I was working at a good place though I wasn't happy at home. I was still living with my mother at that point (from when I moved out of my father's place) and our relationship was getting worse and worse. On top of that I kept trying to reach out and form friendships and relationships with no success. Having almost no social life throughout my upbringing made me rather awkward socially. I always seemed to get along better with people a lot older than me than I ever did with my peers. During this time I had four relationships that ended with me being used and hurt (cheated on three times and stolen from once). I had an ever decreasing self image from this and just felt that I wasn't good enough in general. If my relationships kept ending that poorly I must have a fault that needed fixing and needed to make myself more worthy of a relationship. While my welding job was teaching me a lot and was a good job I decided that I needed to do something more with my life. My father and grandfather both served in the military. My grandfather was in the Navy during WWII and my father was in the army during Vietnam. I had always had high regard for those who served and thought there was no better service you could do than that. I am a very caring and charitable person so I thought it would be a good fit for me as well. In addition, I figured I'd be able to get some good training with electronics which would suit me as a Designer. The Army was also always advertised as a band of Brothers and Sisters so I figure it would be a good place to connect with my peers as well. So with a combination of all of that I decided that it was then or never to join up since I was 28 at the time.

I initially intended on serving in the Air Force due to my intellect but made the mistake of going to an Army recruiter first. I took the ASVAB there and scored a 92 (likely my poor writing skills dropped my score). I was disappointed in the score but to the recruiter it was as if he just struck gold. He handed me a booklet with all the jobs in the Army and told me to pick my top five and he'd guarantee that I'd get one of them. I ended up picking Radar Repair Tech with was the same as what my father did during Vietnam. The recruiter also had me do a mock PT test which I failed the run gloriously (wasn't even close). He assured me though that my intellect would carry me through the Army though which turned out to be a flagrant lie (the Army ONLY cares about your PT score).

With my head full of hopes I was shipped off to serve my five year contract that came with a juicy sign on bonus because it was a needed job at the time. I got to reception which is basically the honeymoon period before you get hit with Basic Training (boot camp). Did alright but couldn't march to save my life. We did the couple weeks of in-processing and they went mostly uneventfully. Got to the point where we got assigned the unit we were going to spend Basic Training in and I got one that was notorious for being difficult. They certainty lived up to their reputation. First day of basic training I had that usual, "Oh no, what in the world did I just get myself into?" moment that a lot of recruits have. It became quickly apparent that running was not my strong suit in any sense. In high school I did body building and in Track I was a thrower, not a runner. I had always been built for strength, not endurance or cardio. I could do more one handed push ups than anyone in the our detachment (proven a few times) but I was nearly the worst runner out of all of them. In my time in Basic Training I failed every PT test except for my final attempt which was a make up test beyond the normal tests (ie, one last try). Because of this poor physical performance I was quickly made to be the focus of all negativity in Basic Training. All of the other Drill Sgts wanted me kicked out except for my Sgt. He was hard as nails but at least he gave me a chance. I was quickly made out to be the enemy amongst the rest of the recruits. They seem to like to do that with every rotation, pick out one person to make the enemy to unify the rest in their hatred of them. Got so bad that I started sleeping with my e-tool under my pillow in case I got jumped in the middle of the night. Every academic thing they threw at me I aced. I soaked up knowledge like a sponge and could help teach it to others as well. Good discipline and a team player despite the way I was treated but I was still what they call a "shit bag" because I couldn't run. That was the only reason for all the flak I was given in basic training. I ended up injuring my left shoulder early on in basic training. Much later in AIT I would be diagnosed with a labrum tear that went untreated causing a cyst to form along with bursitis, tendonitis, a collapsed A/C Joint and a bone spurr. Despite this I never failed the Push-up portion of my PT Test. I forced myself to push through the pain because you were heavily encouraged to not go to sick call unless it was an emergency. The only time I went to sick call in basic training is when I got the barracks cough bad enough that I started coughing up blood. At that point my Drill Sgt forced me to go to sick call and even then I was ridiculed for doing so. No, basic training is supposed to be difficult but I can say I had it worse than usual. My Drill Sgt, close to graduation, told me about the other Drill Sgts wanting to drop me out. When I walked across the stage I shook his hand and he told me, "Continue to prove them wrong". That meant a lot to me and was something I told him prior that I had always done with people (I've had a lot of naysayers in my time). I then went on to AIT where I was to receive nearly a year's worth of training for my job. I went in optimistic thinking that now everything was going to be better. Now was when I can show my worth as a smart soldier, not a strong soldier. I was completely wrong.

First thing getting off the truck at my AIT station was me meeting my new First Sgt who just got done working out. First thing he asked all of us was what our PT Scores were. I didn't sugar coat it and told him I barely passed the run portion of the PT Test. He didn't like that. He hated it even more when we did our diagnostic test and I failed it because the Basic Training test is actually easier than the real test. He REALLY didn't like it when he found out my shoulder was seriously injured according to my pain. Him and all the other Sgts thought I was faking it and that there wasn't anything wrong with my shoulder. Once again, I was singled out because of my ability to run and the fact that I was injured. I went about 6 months in AIT before finally getting an MRI of my shoulder reveling how damaged it was and how much worse it had become because it had gone untreated. I was again labeled as a shit bag soldier and for the first time told to my face that, "I was a waste of tax payer dollars". I was a waste, because I couldn't run well and I was injured. It wasn't because I lacked discipline or wasn't smart enough to do my job. I was a waste of space, time and money because I couldn't run. Despite all of this, I excelled in my training in both Basic Electronics (BET) and with Radar Repair. I finished BET with a perfect score and a month early. I excelled in every test I was given in the Radar Repair portion of the training, never failed a single one and was top of my class. None of that meant anything. I helped out my fellow trainees that were going through depression and suicidal notions to point where the Sgts would get me if they needed help with something of that sort. Still was less than dirt though. I volunteered in the surrounding community so much that I got noticed with a Certificate of Achievement for my charity work. Still a waste of taxpayer dollars though.

The stress of it all got so bad that I thought about just giving up. I was even calling Air Force recruiters and talking to them about potential jobs in that branch and how long I'd have to wait after leaving the Army to join. My stress got so bad that I broke out in a case of the shingles which every medical professional I saw at the time said was stress induced because I had no prior skin conditions and I was too young to have shingles. I was on the verge of quitting but Holiday Block Leave (HBL) was coming up and I was going to be able to go home and see my family for the Christmas season. I decided that since the surgery for my shoulder was slated for after HBL that I would be a good soldier and tough it out until my surgery. Perhaps then, things would finally change. Turns out, as far as AIT was concerned, I was correct. I went on HBL, came back, got my surgery and things changed on a dime. Suddenly all the Sgts realized, "Oh crap, he was actually injured and despite all that he still put up with everything". Their opinion changed drastically and although my stay in AIT was extended 6 months due to my surgery, my period of recovery from my surgery was spent relatively nicely. I had earned their respect, just had to go through hell to do it. After I recovered from my surgery I passed my PT test, was awarded Distinguished Honor Graduate for my accomplishments and awarded an Army Accommodation Award (standard award for DHG's). I though the worst was behind me at that point. I thought that I finally was going to be able to go off to "the real army" and show what I had to offer. I would be treated like an adult, not like a kid anymore. I would be able to prove my worth and show the skills I had to offer the Army. I was once again filled with hope and once again met with nothing but disaster.

As a Radar Repair Tech that graduated with honors I was sent to an armored tank battalion that had zero radars in the area. I had no radars to work on whatsoever. They didn't even know where to put me because they didn't need someone that was my MOS. They put me in their Electronics Repair Shop that worked on primary fixing Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). I thought that there could be worse places to be so I might still be able to help them out with NVGs. Nope, the Warrant Officer in charge of the shop wouldn't let me do a thing because I wasn't qualified. Yeah, they guy with over a year of intense electronics training on equipment that costs tens of millions of dollars isn't qualified to work on NGVs that only cost a few $10k. Despite my protests I wasn't afforded the opportunity to help with their electronics. I also was denied reassignment to a duty station with actual radars for me to work on. Nope, I became in charge of landscaping and watching over front desks of various places. As if that wasn't bad enough I had also injured my back in the final stretch of AIT but pushed through the pain to pass my PT Test. Early on in my duty station I would get a MRI that showed two herniated disks in my lower back that were pushing up against nerves causing issues with my right leg. Received zero treatment for it apart from being prescribed muscle relaxers and put on profile (limited duty) for the injury. This coupled with my previous low PT score on the running portion of my AIT PT Test once again labeled me as a shit bag soldier. Once again, while in the PT group designated for those with injuries, I was told to my face that I was a waste of tax payer dollars. A waste of space and a shit bag for no other reason than I'm injured from trying my damnedest to try to pass a test that has nothing to do with fixing radars. Worthless because there was no work that they would allow me to do that I was qualified for. I was made worthless and reminded that on a nearly daily basis.

But wait, what's this? Another glimpse of hope? Turns out that my unit was deploying on rotation to South Korea. I heard that they actually needed my MOS over there and I'd actually be able to do my job there. I'd be able to show my skills and that I wasn't a waste of space. There was one other guy in my unit that had my same MOS but he was applying for special forces training. If he got accepted I could take his spot on the deployment and go to Korea. I waited in anticipation to hear if he got accepted or not. I talked to the doctor in charge of screening those that were going on deployment and convinced him to overlook my back injury. All the stars aligned and I recieved notice that I was on the deployment list. I was once again completely excited at the opportunity to prove myself to those around me. I was finally going to be able to work on radars. Yet another glimpse of hope leading up to what would be the final let down.

Got to Korea and got assigned to Camp Casey where "the elite go" and where I was supposed to finally have radars to work on. Nope, no radars anywhere in the area. No work to do once again. Even with a skeleton crew and a huge backlog of work the Warrant Officer still wouldn't let me work on simple NVG's. Once again, I was just a worthless waste of space. A good for nothing shit bag soldier. Still I tried my best. That had been my only fault, refusing to quit. I became quickly apparent that nothing had change except that I was now in a foreign country and on my first deployment on top of it all. To make things worse, the other people in my shop had been deployed together before which served to further alienate me from them. Let down after let down after let down, that was the story of my Army career up to that point. I started to seek medical attention for my back injury because it was really starting to effect my leg and was starting to scare me. Received no treatment for it and was just, once again, prescribed muscle relaxers for it. They were stronger ones that were supposed to help with the pain more but came with the side effect of making you constantly drowsy. Yeah, great combination to be drowsy on top of being unable to sleep due to the stress and pain on top of orders changing on a daily basis. I ended up being, and I quote, "5 minutes late to being 10 minutes early" to formation twice and written up both times for it. As stupid as that sounds it's true, "5 minutes late to being 10 minutes early". We would get periodic check ups from the higher ups stationed at Camp Humphreys to the south which was the major base. On one of these check ups I was taken aside by a Sgt notorious for being an ass and bullying people out of the unit/army. He told me that the people up and Casey were supposed to be the best of the best (hogwash, they did nothing when I was up there) and because of my write ups that I'd need to pack my bags and go back with them to Camp Humphreys under his unit. Mind you at the time I was seeing a dentist for a cracked molar (from clenching my jaw all the time due to stress), a doctor for my back and a behavioral health counselor for the mental stress/depression/anxiety I was going through. All of that came to a screeching halt.

I followed this Sgt back down to Camp Humphreys like a good little soldier and didn't put up any fuss. Who knows, maybe I could do something of importance down there although I doubted it at the time. No it ended up being the same thing of being worthless and having nothing to do all day other than sit in a shop doing nothing. However, this time it was worse because of this Sgt. He liked to bully people and liked to force them out of the Army, he was notorious for it even with the higher ranking officers; and now he had his sights on me. I tried to get new dental appointments scheduled, denied. Tried to get new doctor's appointments, denied. Tried to see behavioral health, denied. I tried time and time and time again to get help and was stone walled by him at every turn. Furthermore, the profile that I was on for my back injury was constantly scrutinized by him. He kept acting like a lawyer and trying to find any loophole he could to try to get me to do tasks that would hurt my back. He even went so far as to take me to see the First Sgt and our Captain to argue about my profile with them. They luckily took my side but he didn't stop there. Every single day he'd find me and find some BS thing that was wrong with me and reprimand me for it. I kept trying to get help and was getting stonewalled the entire way while being backed into a corner. The foundation of my mind slowly began to crumble as I tried over and over and over again to get help. I only had a few people around me that I could be safe around, that knew I wasn't a bad guy and that sympathized with the situation I was in. Slowly though, that group dwindled out of fear of this Sgt.; they didn't want to end up on his list. I was left with one friend that stuck through me through it all who was also injured and also had had to deal with this Sgt in the past but he persevered though it. This guy was my only support while away from home and family. He too, didn't get along with they guys in our shop. We used WhatsApp to communicate over there and they'd be constantly fighting with each other on it.

At this point I was losing a grip on my anger and starting to feel the anger that I felt in my childhood grow and become harder and harder to control. I started drinking heavily when off duty to numb the pain in my back so I could go to sleep. In privet I would harm myself in various ways. I'm surprised I never broke something doing that. The point is my anger was growing more and more out of control but I was doing my absolute best to try to not express it around others. At my core I'm a caring person and want to do my best for others. I don't want to lose control of my anger and cause problems for others again. One night in particular though, it all came crashing down for me all at once. We were staying super late at night (past midnight at this point) cleaning rifles for the Sgt in charge of the armory. This sgt was a very nice guy and I liked him a lot. At the same time though he was super particular with the cleanliness of the rifles. You had to clean it all to the point where his tiny little finger couldn't find any trace of oil residue in any part of the internal parts. I was not skilled at cleaning rifles and didn't have the right tools either. It was late at night and my shop was the only one in the entire unit cleaning these rifles for the entire unit. We weren't going to get out until all of them were cleaned. I was absolutely furious at this point and was barely able to control myself. On the forth check of the rifle I was cleaning he still found traces of residue in it and told me to continue cleaning it. I snapped at him and told him that was the best cleaning he was going to get. He was very shocked to hear me say that and mind you disrespecting a Sgt is no small offense in the Army, you usually get in big trouble for that. He looked at me with a shocked face and asked if everything was alright with me. I told him no and I was trying to get help but was getting none. He apologized but said that he needed me to continue cleaning the rifle (luckily I didn't get in trouble). I went back to the spot where I was cleaning it and put out in the group chat that I thought it was BS that our shop was the only ones out here cleaning these rifles for the entire unit. I saw another comment from my friend saying to not contact him again and that if he was neeeded for something to go through the the shop's sgt about it. What I didn't know was he wasn't saying this in response to my comment but to one of the other guys in the shop that he was in the middle of fighting with. In my state of mind I thought he had just cut all ties with me and that I lost my last supporter in all of what I was going through.

This devastated me me and was the final breaking point. I decided right there to give up on everything. Not just the Army mind you, everything. I felt like I was being backed into a corner that would going to lead to a dishonorable discharge and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I had been told that a DD on your record was as bad as a felony. With that knowledge I figured that any life I'd have after a DD would be worthless to me. Worst of all, I was afraid that I was going to lose my anger more than just snapping at someone but actually fully snap. Like I said, at my core I'm a deeply caring person and don't want to hurt others. With the loss of hope and the feeling of losing control I decided to end it all myself rather than hurt anyone else. The rest of the time cleaning the rifles was spent in a daze as I planned on taking my life that night. I had a full bottle of pills that I had stopped taking because they weren't helping along with a full 750ml bottle of tequila in the freezer. After getting off around 2am I went to my room, grabbed the bottle, put my bed up against the door to bar it and wrote my farewell to everyone. I had a personal laptop that I wrote it on and deleted everything but it from my desktop. After writing that I down the bottle of pills and chased with with half of the bottle of tequila in one go. I sat there for some time, I don't know how long until I started to feel it take effect. I had prepared a text to send in our group chat to make sure that my note on the computer wasn't missed. However I wanted to wait until the last minute to send it so that if they responded right away it would be too late. I crawled up in the corner of my room with the effects of what I did well under way. I forced myself to drink more, pretty much drowning myself in it. As I laid there bleeding from my nose profusely and feeling my consciousness beginning to lapse I sent the msg telling everyone what I was doing and that I left a note on my laptop explaining everything. Hours later, I woke up in the shower for some reason. I had moved my bed away from the door, gotten undressed and started taking a shower for who knows what reason. I became lucid to the sound of pounding on my door with my friend screaming and asking if I was alright. He knew how to pop the lock and came in as I was leaving the bathroom. He asked again if I was alright and I said yes in a dismissive matter and slumped against the wall and started convulsing. He dragged me up, laid me down on my bed and called the first sgt who said to call for an ambulance. My friend stayed by my bed side and made me keep talking to him as I kept trying to drift off to what I thought was sleep. The paramedics came and took me to the hospital. The entire way they kept having to talk to me, use pressure points to wake me up and remind me to breathe. The muscle relaxers seemed to have been shutting down my diaphragm causing me to lose control of my breathing. They successfully got me to the hospital, pumped my stomach and a bunch of other things that night. I spent the night in the ICU as they watch over me. I remember the First Sgt and the Captain coming to see me while I was there. What I had done surprised them apparently. The Captain in particular was deeply troubled, she was kinda like a mother of the unit. Apparently none of what had been going on with me had been relayed to them. The sgt that was in charge of me kept it from going up to them and they were completely out of the loop. She cried by my bed side apologizing for what had happened and telling me that she had no idea something like that was going on in her unit (she was new to the unit). It moved me to know that she cared that much and I felt guilty for putting her and everyone else through what I had. My attempt to not hurt anyone had in fact hurt a lot of people that night.

I was discharged later the following day and put on watch for 2 weeks after that. There wasn't anywhere I went that I wasn't being watched. I had regular meetings with behavioral health after that, talking about what had happened and how I was feeling. The biggest things I felt were guilt and lost. I felt lost because I had no plan for any sort of "after". That night was supposed to be the end of it all and I didn't know what to do next. I also felt guilt because of the amount of people that I hurt that cared about me that I didn't know felt that way. The amount of support that rallied around me was extremely shocking. I decided to do the only thing I could think of and just followed their instructions while also using my experience to help other soldiers. Our unit had a bad rep for suicide cases before this new Captain came on board and she didn't know about it in time for me. During my remaining time there I was able to use my experience to talk two soldiers down from their own suicide attempts, one of which had been harming herself already. Luckily both of them made it and got the help they needed as I did. I did the only thing I could do with my pain as I had done all my life which is why I'm as caring as I try to be. I turned my pain into a tool to help others survive their current issues. After the two weeks of intense watch and talking with behavioral health about everything that had gone on an investigation was launched about what had taken place. I gave my testimony and don't know what happened after that. The investigator had me proof read the transcript of my testimony on my last day there. I was leaving to go back home and be honorably discharged due to mental trauma.

Afterwards and even now I have issues feeling worthy of being called a veteran. I've had a lot of people telling me that I did nothing wrong and literally gave it everything I had. To me though, I still failed and that's difficult to deal with. Slowly I'm coming to terms that I was just a victim of a series of unfortunate events and was just not meant to be in the Army. It still hurts that I wasn't able to be successful.

I've been out of the Army since January of 2019. Almost all of 2019 was spent doing nothing apart from mentally recovering from what had transpired and getting my feet under me again. Only my father, brother and younger of two older sisters know what happened. The rest of my family thinks that I was just discharged due to my back injury. Since then I've fought with the VA and have received almost no aid that I'm due. The only thing I've gotten from them is a dental exam. After fighting for awhile I gave up on the issue and decided that I have to help myself in this matter. Late last year I got my resume in order and applied as an Entry Level Technical Designer for a civilian company that makes rockets. After about a four month application period and many interviews I was hired on with a salary that was 50% over what I had asked for. I've been working for them since and have been really happy at the company. Still a bit weary from my experience in the Army and getting used to co-workers and supervisors that like me and treat me as a highly valued employee. I also managed to meet a girlfriend through a mutual friend and we've been hitting it off very well. A lot of thing have been going well for me, when I look at myself now. I have also not drank since my time in Korea.

However, I've become evermore "the strong person" for everyone around me. Like I said, I use my past experiences to help out those that I can. Despite things not going wrong with me, there is a lot of bad things going on around me that I'm having to help others with constantly. All the while I can hardly sleep at night due to nightmares. This morning was particularly bad as I might have gotten about 2 hours of sleep but woke up more relieved than tired. I was relieved to be awake and no longer having those nightmares. It's becoming more and more difficult to be "the stone person" for everyone and it feels like I can't talk about my problems. I feel like if I talk to other people I'll be burdening them with my issues and they'll feel less open to come to me for the help they need. Despite having family around me that care for me it feels like I'm alone with my problems. About the only person I can turn to is my father but he's dealing with a lot as well (his sister just had major surgery done). He's a strong man of faith but I feel bad burdening him with my issues as well. I wish I shared his faith as I see the same faith give him and so many others strength. I feel alone with these issues and it's getting harder to deal with. I'm constantly afraid. I don't want my work to know because it's the best job that I've ever had and I don't want to jeopardize my position there. Even now I feel like crying writing this but I can't because I don't want my brother to hear it. I'm afraid to tell Sarah (my girlfriend) because she's also going through so much right now with her city on the verge of shut down and having a neighbor with covid. I can't even go see her because of all the lock downs. The friends I've met since leaving the Army are people that I help out a lot with with advice and moral support. I'm afraid that if I bring my problems to them that they'll stop making the progress they've been making because I won't be "the strong person" in their life anymore. They'll also feel less open to come to me for support because it'll burden me too much.

There's a lot of stress and loneliness that I feel right now and I don't know what to do to help it. One of my friends who knows what has happened to me thinks I may have PTSD but I've not been able to see a therapist about it due to the lock downs and fear jeopardizing my work. I've also have received no help from the engorgement that's due to me from my service. It's becoming more and more difficult to "stay strong" and help out others as well. I don't really know what to do about it. I want to still be in a position where I can help those that I care for that need it. I want to remain strong for everyone but don't know who it is that has my back and I feel guilty for feeling this way.
 
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calypso

calypso

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WOW that is one long post! You are worthwhile, you just haven't found your true calling so to speak. You say you are very bright, I suspect there are countless things out there for you. As for your childhood, that was awful and possibly set you up to fail or as you see it.

I'm afraid I had to edit some of your post as self harm specifics aren't permitted on the forum
 
Alice Raven

Alice Raven

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First off, thank you for your service. What you went through sounds absolutely toxic. I does sound like you came through and have found some strength in your experience. It sounds like you had some good people who were sympathetic to what you were going through. That certainly helps. It's a terrible thing when the senior NCOs don't take care of the people under them. Leadership is a privilege and should be taken seriously and that means looking after everyone under you.

I've always heard that the VA can be a bit of a maze to negotiate. I can also empathize with your weapon cleaning story. Pushing a patch through the barrel of an M-16 was like moving a mountain and don't get me started on cleaning the chamber and bolt assembly.

I think that you've found a noble goal in being strong for others. Let that be your guidepost to stay strong and healthy. And, you have to take care of yourself to remain strong. I am the worst in taking my own advice in this, but I realize that it's necessary to continuing to be strong and give back.

Hoo ahh. (I'm in another...organization, but I hear them say that all the time in support of one another):clap:
 
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